Showing posts with label Summoning Signals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summoning Signals. Show all posts

Fragmented Almanac: Unique Dreamcast Puzzle Collection goes up for Pre-order!

One of my favourite memories from when I first got involved with The Dreamcast Junkyard happened towards the end of February 2020, when I played the demo for "Reaperi Cycle" in preparation for an episode of our podcast, the DreamPod. Interesting extra tidbit: I'd got engaged to my now-wife just the day before! 

Upon booting up the Reaperi Cycle demo, I was met with a point-and-click game in an isometric style, with really compelling pre-rendered graphics indicative of 90s PC titles, such as Sanitarium. This was not a style of game I ever expected to hit the Dreamcast, but something that I'm so glad I played. The mission of the demo was to solve puzzles in an alchemist's study to try and unlock a strange floating cube in the middle of the room. Not being that smart a puzzle game aficionado, I found some of the puzzles quite tricky to solve, which had me turning to fellow Junkyarders Tom, Mike and James for help, as they were also playing the game in prep for the podcast. 

Reaperi Cycle

In this age of instant information, even if we'd tried to look for a walkthrough to this demo, we would've come back empty handed, so what followed was something I'd not experienced in a long time: we started exchanging hints and tips with one another about what we'd each managed to figure out. With everybody's help (particularly Mike's, if I recall correctly), I eventually managed to get that cube open and complete the demo, and it felt awesome. It took me back to my playground days of yore, when my friend who was a year older than me would effectively function as a walking walkthrough guide, helping me out with advice whenever I got stuck on Pokémon Red. Reaperi Cycle reminded me of that, and it was amazing to feel that same buzz once again of utilising the advice of friends to finally beat a game. 

So then... why did I share this sentimental little tale? Because developer of Reaperi Cycle, ANTIRUINS, is finally releasing definitive versions of not only Reaperi Cycle (now known as The Hideout), but also Summoning Signals, another excellent demo that they also showcased back in 2020. And what's more, they're both combined into one release, called the Fragmented Almanac, with enhanced visuals and audio. That's two really unique games for the price of one, and you can pre-order them today, for an expected release date of March 2024.

Fragmented Almanac will be available digitally for $14.99 (for play on emulator, ODE, etc), with disc copies costing $29.99. The physical game comes in two editions with different cover art, and they both look absolutely sick. You'd be forgiven for mistaking them for some underground band's short-run release on some boutique indie label's Bandcamp. "Dude, I really hope they release Fragmented Almanac on vinyl next!"

On ANTIRUINS' store page for this release, the collection is described as follows:

"The Fragmented Almanac is a strange document, an oddity even amongst Dreamcast games.  At the junction of video games, art and alchemy, this project is the culmination of 7 years of Dreamcast development, spread over 5 different games. The Fragmented Almanac re-unites two of these experimentations under a multifaceted and complex timeline."

And the games contained within:

"THE HIDEOUT : This place is filled with alchemical knowledge, old tales and mystical symbols. It's the hidden path in the forest, seen by very few. Can you unlock its secret?

"SUMMONING SIGNALS : Sprinter-2 crashed on an Unknown Planet. Help the Pilot and figure out a way to leave the labyrinth. Discover this strange world where new technology and old ruins coexist."

The games also boasts such features as a "new Almanac system [which] guides you through the complex world", an "eerie soundtrack composed by Gabriel Ledoux" and the useful extra of "hints [being] displayed on the VMU". Nice.
The developers of Fragmented Alamanac are Canada-based, but did confirm in our Discord that they are currently working to try and get a distributor arranged for Europe, although $11 to get one of these sent to the UK (where I'm based) isn't too bad a delivery cost. Once again, you can pre-order the game here.

Are you going to check out The Hideout and Summoning Signals as part of the Fragmented Almanac? Let us know in the comments below, or on our socials.

A Quick Look At Summoning Signals (Demo)

Summoning Signals is but one of a handful of new games heading to the Dreamcast in the near future, and it also happens to have a demo version freely available to download, burn to a CD and play on actual Dreamcast hardware.

Naturally, we thought it only proper to grab the demo and give it a whirl, and to give our impressions of this early build here at the Junkyard. Just to clarify, this new demo is not the same as the old demo - the old demo being a sort of mini game that featured a two-headed serpent with a penchant for Soul Calibur quips. No, this new demo is a demo of the actual Summoning Signals game, in all its point and click, photogrammetry-enabled glory.

So what is Summoning Signals then? Well, in time honoured fashion, it appears that indie developer 12db.soft have crafted a slightly esoteric sci-fi point and click adventure game, which relies pretty heavily on the sort of eerie, technology focused strangeness you're likely to find in a Mark Z. Danielewski novel. Lots of abstract music and sound effects, very little hand holding, and a leaning on the player to work it out for themselves...imagine that in this day and age!

The game starts with a fairly bizarre cutscene that depicts you crashing your ship on some alien world. There's lots of arcane symbolism and almost Lynchian aesthetic cues as the ship loses power and descends; and you are left to work out how to use your damaged radio to make contact with a benevolent stranger and follow their instructions to get out of your predicament. That predicament being, y'know, that you're stranded on an alien world.

Due to the nature of Summoning Signals' reliance on the abstract, it's probably an intentional design choice that it's all a bit baffling to begin with. You move a crosshair around the screen and focus on items in the world, selecting them as you go - the VMU will beep and display icons when you happen to hover over a point of interest (which is a nice touch). 

You can also pull up an inventory of sorts and activate a radio through which you communicate with the stranger (who goes by the name Copper) and you can move between screens by hovering over arrows that appear at the screen edge and selecting them. Check out the short video I put together of the first few minutes of the demo below.

Overall, from what I've played of this demo I'm even more intrigued by how weird 12db.soft can make this game. Apart from the unique visual style which mixes interesting photogrammetry with a rudimentary day/night cycle, the oddness of Summoning Signals really appeals to me.

There's no set release date for the final game yet, but you can grab this demo from the Summoning Signals website and play it either on a PC or on Dreamcast hardware. I did have a few instances where the demo froze, but that's forgivable in this early state.

Let us know if you've played the demo in the comments or on Twitter.

Summoning Signals now has a website and a demo for Dreamcast

Summoning Signals represents one of the more mysterious upcoming releases for the Dreamcast. A point and click adventure in which the player must locate the scattered parts of a crippled spacecraft, the photogrammetry graphical style is unlike anything we've previously seen on the Dreamcast.

Coming from 12db.soft and Retro Surge Games, Summoning Signals is aiming for an Autumn 2020 release (that's Fall for our American readers), and the game now has a dedicated website and a demo available. The demo is interesting as it's not actually a demo of the main game, it's more a vertical space shooter where you have to kill a two-headed dragon with a penchant for Soul Calibur quotes...but this just fits the whole weirdness vibe lead developer Magnes is aiming for:

"I see Summoning Signals like a strange trip to a vaguely familiar planet. Some people say it reminds them of the Myst series or Lack of Love. We're inspired by Kentucky Route Zero for its visuals and storytelling, Hyper Light Drifter and Elemental Gimmick Gear for their worldbuilding and Seaman for its wierdness to name a few. Summoning Signals is a game for those who like to discover strange worlds.

"I've always wanted to contribute to SEGA's last console library. This console (and its community) is what got me into programming and hacking 15 years ago, so it feels right to give back. Also, working with retro console has this hacker-tech-charm vibe to it.

- Magnes, via summoningsignals.com

From the game's itch.io page:

Summoning Signals is a experimental narrative game. 

You are Bertholet, an antique collector with a passion for old technology. As you are making a delivery across the galaxy, your ship starts behaving erratically and crash on an unknown planet. Get to know the planet's strange inhabitant, repair your ship and escape before the fabled Minotaur finds you.

Radio Exploration
Use your radio to call for help and communicate with the galaxy's inhabitant. Make sure to charge your battery and keep the signal alive! 

Repair system
Bertholet will need to find spare parts on this new planet to repair his ship. Break apart old machines and dig for circuits in computers! Make use of your tools to get your ship running again.

Poetic Puzzles
The world inhabitant like to speak in riddle. Are you wise enough to understand them? Use your wits to find the clues and progress through the game.

We have covered Summoning Signals in the recent past, and waxed lyrical about the interesting photogrammetry technique used (think the Google Maps 3D modelling style). I for one am pretty intrigued to know more about this indie offering, and after enjoying the outright oddness of the Reaperi Cycle demo 12db.soft released earlier in 2020, I think I'm qualified to consider myself a fan of this developer.


Keep an eye on the Summoning Signals website for updates (you can sign up to be alerted when new demos are available) and also grab that annoyingly difficult shooter demo. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one...and you should too.

Excited for yet another new Dreamcast release in 2020? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below. Oh, and follow 12db.soft on Twitter here.

Retro Surge Games announces new Dreamcast title Summoning Signals

Remember the awesome Reaperi Cycle demo we looked at recently? If not, check it out here. Well, after we were wowed by the clever puzzling elements shown in that game we were quickly brought back down to Earth when it was revealed that Reaperi Cycle is actually on hiatus. But all is not lost - the reason for the hiatus is that developer 12db.soft is currently working on another Dreamcast exclusive puzzle game: Summoning Signals.
Summoning Signals is pencilled in for a Winter 2020 release on Dreamcast, and will be released by Retro Surge Games, the publishing arm of online retailer The Bit Station. From the press release:

Summoning Signals is an experimental narrative game. You play as Bertholet, an antique collector with a passion for old technology. As you are making a delivery across the galaxy, your ship starts behaving erratically and crash on an unknown planet. Get to know the planet's strange inhabitant, repair your ship and escape before the fabled Minotaur finds you.

Use your radio to call for help and communicate with the galaxy's inhabitant. Make sure to charge your battery and keep the signal alive! Bertholet will need to find spare parts on this new planet to repair his ship. Break apart old machines and dig for circuits in computers! Make use of your tools to get your ship running again.

The world’s inhabitants like to speak in riddle. Are you wise enough to understand them? Use your wits to find the clues and progress through the game. The game's unique world is made using photogrammetry, a technique used to create 3D models from pictures. The result are unlike anything you have seen on the Dreamcast.
- Summoning Signals press release
The visuals on show are looking quite fabulous even at this stage, and as described in the press release, it will be the first game on the Dreamcast that employs photogrammetry. I suppose the best current analogue to this visualisation technique would be something like Google Maps' ability to turn flat 2D satellite images into fully rendered 3D locations when you zoom down to ground level. Below is a Google Maps 3D mode shot of Manchester, the Greatest City on Earth™to show what I mean:
Imagine if this tech had been available to Shockwave Assault's devs back in the day; those flat pixellated landscapes would've looked so much less like you were flying over a bowl of vegetable soup while blasting alien invaders. Pretty sure my 3DO would have melted into a pile of black plastic though. I'm waffling, let's get back on track. Photogrammetry is certainly an interesting technique and will definitely give Summoning Signals a unique look on Dreamcast.
We'll bring more info on Summoning Signals as we get it, and you can follow 12db.softRetro Surge Games and The Bit Station on Twitter for updates as they happen.

What do you think? Are you intrigued by Summoning Signals? And did you play the super cool (and brain meltingly difficult!) Reaperi Cycle demo? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.